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HAVELI by Suzanne Fisher Staples


by Suzanne Fisher Staples

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-84157-1
Publisher: Knopf

 In a follow-up to Shabanu (1989, Newbery Honor), the fourth wife of wealthy Pakistani landowner Rahim is still in her teens; her only child, Mumtaz, is nearly five. Though Shabanu is Rahim's favorite, she comes second to his political duties and must guard vigilantly against the scheming of his jealous older wives, suspicious of her desert origins and independent spirit; their plots go beyond cruel pranks to false accusations and threats of serious harm. While Rahim plans to consolidate family holdings through two marriages--of his spiteful daughter Leyla to her cousin Omar, just returned from the US with a graduate degree; and of his only son Ahmed, a foolish, slobbering idiot, to lovely Zabo, Shabanu's dear friend, daughter of Rahim's vicious brother Nazir (villain of the first book)--the intrigues against Shabanu and Mumtaz escalate. The two find temporary sanctuary in the haveli (mansion) of Rahim's widowed sister in Lahore, where Shabanu helps Zabo hide, in hope of escape, much of the money Nazir has given her for a trousseau; and where Shabanu falls in love--poignantly, without hope--with Omar. Again, Staples imbues Shabanu and her beautiful, brutally repressive world with a splendid reality that transcends the words on the page. The betrayals, violence, and richly sustaining loyalties she invokes in the gripping final events have a convincing inexorability tempered with hope at the tantalizingly open conclusion. A sequel isn't promised, but admirers of the intelligent and courageous Shabanu will thirst for more. Map, list of characters, glossary. (Fiction. 12+)